Light a Village

Light a Village is an award winning, game-changing model bringing solar power to the poorest and remotest areas in sub-Saharan Africa by combining the latest technology with strong community operations and an affordable financing model.

Why Light a Village – reaching the hardest-to-reach

Almost 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity. When the sun sets, families are forced to turn to dangerous alternatives such as homemade torches, candles and kerosene lamps. These options aren’t only expensive, but they are also imperilling health, impairing education, and emitting carbon into the atmosphere. 

The poorest and remotest communities are being left behind in the energy transition. Currently, it is estimated that by 2030, 560 million people will still be without electricity leaving the world far off achieving SDG7. There is an urgent need for innovative solutions which put energy access for these communities at the forefront.  Light a Village aims to test new models for distributing and maintaining solar lighting in remote, off-grid areas with the ambition to fast-track universal energy access. 

How does it work – energy as a service

Light a Village applies a game-changing ‘energy as a service model’, meaning customers pay the utility provider for the electricity they use. This means families receive instant access to electricity at an affordable rate. This model responds to the two key barriers that keep the poorest communities from gaining energy access – affordability and risk management.

This ground breaking innovation aims to create community transformation through providing each household, as well as schools in a village with a solar home system. We then train local Customer Service Representatives (CSRs)  to install and repair the solar home systems creating long-term, sustainable income.

"The clock is ticking and current solutions will not reach the hardest-to-reach within the time limit of 2030 set by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This model demonstrates that it is possible to achieve universal access to energy within a short time frame, even within one of the poorest, most remote, communities in the world."
John Keane, SolarAid CEO

The impact

The Light a Village pilot began in Kasakula TA, Ntchisi District in Malawi where 97% of customers live in extreme poverty, with 0% grid access.

In total, 4000 solar home systems have been installed in the area, showing high satisfaction from the customers, with 99% of rural households having received access to light in some parts of the area. 12 schools have also been equipped with solar home systems, meaning 100% of school facilities in the area now have access to light.

This project is ongoing, currently being monitored and evaluated, with the ambition of scaling across Malawi and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Light a Village pilot has been funded by a combination of donations from ten generous donors matched by the Turner Kirk Trust.

Stories from the ground

Meet Kesilina

Kesilina lost everything to a house fire, but still had to make the choice between using dirty and dangerous fuels or total darkness. With the flick of a switch, everything changed.

Meet Yohane

Yohane was struggling to provide his family with the life he dreamed of – but, a single solar light changed everything.

Goodwell and his family enjoy their ebe

Meet Goodwell

Just like any parent, Goodwell wants the best for his children – a safe place to live, a good education and the chance to create a future they choose. Before he had access to light, this didn’t feel within reach.

A candle is lit in the dark.